15 CFR § 970.203 - Exploration plan.
(a) General. Each application must include an exploration plan which describes the applicant's projected exploration activities during the period to be covered by the proposed license. Generally, the exploration plan must demonstrate to a reasonable extent that the applicant's efforts, by the end of the 10-year license period, will likely lead to the ability to apply for and obtain a permit for commercial recovery. In particular, the plan must include sufficient information for the Administrator, pursuant to this part, to make the necessary determinations pertaining to the certification and issuance or transfer of a license and to the development and enforcement of the terms, conditions and restrictions for a license.
(b) Contents. The exploration plan must contain the following information. In presenting this information, the plan should incorporate the applicant's proposed individual approach, including a general description of how projected participation by other entities will relate to the following elements, if appropriate. The plan must present:
(1) The activities proposed to be carried out during the period of the license;
(2) A description of the area to be explored, including its delineation according to § 970.601;
(3) The intended exploration schedule which must be responsive to the diligence requirements in § 970.602. Taking into account that different applicants may have different concepts and chronologies with respect to the types of activities described, the schedule should include an approximate projection for the exploration activities planned. Although the details in each schedule may vary to reflect the applicant's particular approach, it should address in some respect approximately when each of the following types of activities is projected to occur.
(i) Conducting survey cruises to determine the location and abundance of nodules as well as the sea floor configuration, ocean currents and other physical characteristics of potential commercial recovery sites;
(ii) Assaying nodules to determine their metal contents;
(iii) Designing and testing system components onshore and at sea;
(iv) Designing and testing mining systems which simulate commercial recovery;
(v) Designing and testing processing systems to prove concepts and designing and testing systems which simulate commercial processing;
(vi) Evaluating the continued feasibility of commercial scale operations based on technical, economic, legal, political and environmental considerations; and
(vii) Applying for a commercial recovery permit and, to the extent known, other permits needed to construct and operate commercial scale facilities (if application for such permits is planned prior to obtaining a commercial recovery permit);
(4) A description of the methods to be used to determine the location, abundance, and quality (i.e., assay) of nodules, and to measure physical conditions in the area which will affect nodule recovery system design and operations (e.g., seafloor topography, seafloor geotechnic properties, and currents);
(5) A general description of the developing recovery and processing technology related to the proposed license, and of any planned or ongoing testing and evaluation of such technology. To the extent possible at the time of application, this description should address such factors as nodule collection technique, seafloor sediment rejection subsystem, mineship nodule separation scheme, pumping method, anticipated equipment test areas, and details on the testing plan;
(6) An estimated schedule of expenditures, which must be responsive to the diligence requirements as discussed in § 970.602;
(7) Measures to protect the environment and to monitor the effectiveness of environmental safeguards and monitoring systems for commercial recovery. These measures must take into account the provisions in §§ 970.506, 970.518, 970.522 and subpart G of this part; and
(8) A description of any relevant activity that the applicant has completed prior to the submission of the application.
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